Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rising Storms Revise Story Of Jupiter's Stripes

March 10, 2003
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pictures of Jupiter, taken by a NASA spacecraft on its way to Saturn, are flipping at least one long-standing notion about Jupiter upside down.

Pictures of Jupiter, taken by a NASA spacecraft on its way to Saturn, are flipping at least one long-standing notion about Jupiter upside down.

Stripes dominate Jupiter's appearance. Darker "belts" alternate with lighter "zones." Scientists have long considered the zones, with their pale clouds, to be areas of upwelling atmosphere, partly because many clouds on Earth form where air is rising. On the principle of what goes up must come down, the dark belts have been viewed as areas where air generally descends.

However, pictures from the Cassini spacecraft show that individual storm cells of upwelling bright-white clouds, too small to see from Earth, pop up almost without exception in the dark belts. Earlier spacecraft had hinted so, but not with the overwhelming evidence provided by the new images of 43 different storms.

"We have a clear picture emerging that the belts must be the areas of net-rising atmospheric motion on Jupiter, with the implication that the net motion in the zones has to be sinking," said Dr. Tony Del Genio, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York. "It's the opposite of expectations for the past 50 years".

Del Genio is one of 24 co-authors from America and Europe reporting diverse results from the Cassini imaging of Jupiter in Friday's edition of the journal Science. Cassini's camera took about 26,000 images of Jupiter, its moons and its faint rings over a six-month period as the spacecraft passed nearby two years ago.

"The range of illumination angles at which Cassini viewed Jupiter's main ring gives insight about particles in the ring by the way they scatter sunlight. The particles appear to be irregularly shaped, not spheres," said camera-team leader Dr. Carolyn Porco of Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo. "They likely come from surfaces of one or more moons being eroded by micrometeoroid impacts."

Spherical particles would suggest an origin as melted droplets, not erosion. In addition, Cassini imaging shows the degree to which the orbits of two small moons near the ring, Metis and Adrastea, are inclined matches the vertical thickness of the ring. That points to those moons as sources of the ring particles, said Porco.

One surprise in ultraviolet images of Jupiter's north polar region is a swirling dark oval of high-atmosphere haze the size of the planet's famous Great Red Spot. "It's a phenomenon we haven't seen before, so it gives us new information about how stratospheric circulation works," said Dr. Robert West of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The results show the winds and the life cycle of clouds in the stratosphere.

Also, movies of infrared images reveal persistent bands of globe-circling winds extending north of the conspicuous dark and light stripes. "The planet's appearance at high latitudes is like leopard spots, but when you see it in motion, it's interesting that all the spots at one latitude move in one direction and all the spots at adjacent latitudes move the opposite direction," said Dr. Andrew Ingersoll of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

Other discoveries reported include atmospheric glows of the large moons Io and Europa during eclipses, a volcanic plume over Io's north polar region, and the irregular shape of a small outer moon, Himalia.

"The Jupiter results provide some hints of the spectacular new findings that await Cassini when it reaches Saturn," Dr. Larry Esposito of the University of Colorado, Boulder, principal investigator for Cassini's ultraviolet-imaging spectrograph instrument, predicts in a separate commentary in Science about the Cassini camera results at Jupiter. Cassini will begin orbiting Saturn July 1, 2004, and will release its piggybacked Huygens probe about six months later for descent through the atmosphere of the moon Titan.

Cassini is a cooperative venture of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of Caltech, manages the mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Other co-authors include scientists from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.; Free University of Berlin, Germany; Queen Mary, University of London, United Kingdom; University of Arizona, Tucson; University of Paris, France; German Aerospace Center, Berlin; and University of California, Los Angeles.

Images and mission information are available on the Internet at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/jupiter-flyby/index.cfm and http://ciclops.lpl.arizona.edu/ciclops/images_jupiter.html

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Rising Storms Revise Story Of Jupiter's Stripes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030310070738.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2003, March 10). Rising Storms Revise Story Of Jupiter's Stripes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030310070738.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Rising Storms Revise Story Of Jupiter's Stripes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030310070738.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This

More Space & Time News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA administrator Charles Bolden, speaking at the 'Human to Mars Summit' in Washington, says that learning more about the Red Planet can help answer the 'fundamental question' of 'life beyond Earth'. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA is inviting all social media users to take a selfie of themselves alongside nature and to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Google Plus with the hashtag #globalselfie. NASA's goal is to crowd-source a collection of snapshots of the earth, ground-up, that will be used to create one "unique mosaic of the Blue Marble." This image will be available to all in May. Since this is probably one of the few times posting a selfie to Twitter won't be embarrassing, we suggest you give it a go for a good cause. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 20, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft makes a scheduled Easter Sunday rendezvous with the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station

Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station

AP (Apr. 20, 2014) Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The SpaceX company's cargo ship, Dragon, spent two days chasing the International Space Station following its launch from Cape Canaveral. (April 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins